While estimates are frighteningly low for the percentage of financial assets under management by women and minorities, that number is destined to change. Leading the charge for this change as one of the few women-owned asset management companies is ThirtyNorth Investments, headed by Suzanne Mestayer, Managing Principal, and Blair duQuesnay, Principal and Chief Investment Officer.
How did Mestayer and duQuesnay become gender lens investors? They were basically convinced by the business case for more women in corporate leadership. “It was an interesting confluence of increasing our knowledge on the topic of women in governance, and learning about how few women are on corporate boards,” said Mestayer in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. “This coincided with our acknowledgement of our own experiences serving on boards, and seeing the benefits of having diversity on those boards.”
Sustainable Harvest International Founder and President Florence Reed did not encounter many other women leaders in philanthropy when she started the organization in 1997. “I was flying by the seat of my pants. I literally went to a library and checked out a book on how to start a non-profit, and went through it chapter by chapter,” she recalled in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. Who knew then how successful her initiative would be: Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) was recently named by Charity Navigator as one of the “six highest-ranking charities in the sector making major strides to increase sustainable food production.”
In another unexpected “first” for our nation, Donald Trump decided to have his daughter, Ivanka sit in for him at the G20 leaders’ summit in Hamburg, Germany. But another, perhaps more important first also took place at this meeting: The World Bank Group announced the creation of an innovative new facility that plans to invest more than $1 billion to advance women’s entrepreneurship. This new facility will give women in developing countries a leg up when it comes to increasing their access to capital and markets that will help them start and grow businesses.
A massive defunding for women is now under consideration in the United States Senate. All told, it represents billions of dollars annually that will come straight out of primarily women’s wallets.
You may not usually think of the federal government as a philanthropic institution. Yet from our country’s start, congressional acts have subsidized various segments of the population and for a variety of reasons. Take the 1792 Postal Act. A spirited debate went on in the second session of Congress, over maintaining access to information. That Congress voted to create low postal rates for newspapers and to improve roads by creating postal routes to ensure expansion and development of our fledgling country, rather than solely serve existing communities. Americans still benefit from reduced media postal rates today.
Accenture, a professional services corporation which has studied and made public its own employee demographics, plans to reach 40% female employment by 2020. In addition, the corporation recently announced a new goal for total gender parity in its workforce by 2025.
But is it possible? Studies that peg the gender ratios for corporate boards predict the year that gender parity will be realized on corporate boards is 2055. Other studies suggest it will take another 40 years to close the gender pay gap in academia. But the company has a strong ethic of transparency that they believe helps them advance community objectives, and might possibly put them in a position to lead the charge on gender equity in business. “When you publish a goal, it holds you accountable to a higher level,” says Ellen Shook, chief leadership and human resources officer at Accenture, in this article from Fortune.
The telling of more women’s stories is necessary to advancing women’s lives. Regrettably, though, a mere 4.6% of Hollywood features today are directed by women. As a result, women have fewer speaking parts – 34% according to Dr. Martha Lauzen’s 2015 annual report “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World.” And only 22% of the protagonist were women. This leaves a huge gap in one of America’s most popular exports. Is this really the picture people in the United States want to offer around the globe?
For decades, film women have been working to change this picture. Especially since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission officially took up a complaint over a year and a half ago, discussions among women in Hollywood and elsewhere have intensified.
Recently, I got an email from Stephanie Gillis, Senior Advisor at the Raikes Foundation, wanting to “explore potential synergies” with the work we are doing at Philanthropy Women. Naturally, I was eager to do so, and soon learned about Givingcompass.org, a new team effort of several foundations and nonprofits, aimed at drawing on the chops of the tech sector in order to provide more resources for the philanthropy sector, particularly around how to assess the quality of philanthropy and get the most impact per philanthropy dollar.
Because of the importance of addressing climate change for women worldwide (as well as for all other manner of human and other species), it is important to take note of the economic activity that other countries are poised to engage in as a result of the Paris Accord. It’s also important to note how the U.S. will miss out on these economic opportunities because of our current poor (and non-representative) presidential leadership.
Since its launch in May of 2016, I have started following Ellevate Network on my Twitter feed, and I am always impressed by the quality of their material on both gender equality and gender lens investing. Now, the new startup that aims to capture the $11 trillion women’s investing market, is holding a conference in June to activate gender equality movements. Sallie Krawcheck, the architect and founder of Ellevest, came to my attention last spring when I was creating a list of 9 Gender Lens Investors to Know About.
Here is my capsule on Krawcheck from that article:
Of the $71.4 trillion dollars controlled by the asset management industry, only 1.1 percent of total assets under management are with firms owned by women and minorities.
You heard that right. Although the number of firms that are women- or minority-owned can range from 3 to 9% across the four different asset categories in the industry, assets controlled by those firms account for only 1.1% of all assets under management.
A press release from the Knight Foundation, which commissioned the study, states that this is the most in-depth study to date about ownership diversity in asset management. Additional analysis revealed that the 1.1% managed by women and minorities had no difference in performance from the 98.9% non-diverse asset management industry.